How to assign my lease?
March 17, 2009 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Question about assigning a lease in Toronto, Ontario: could what I heard about the process, and the timing involved, be true?

Background: we got pressured into signing a 2 year lease. We've lived in the apartment for 1.5 years, and the lease ends on August 31st. Now we want to move (not because of any negligence on the landlord's part, but because we need a bigger place). However, we want to do it before September, because of the fierce competition for apartments at that time of the year.

We would strongly prefer to assign the lease rather than sublet the apartment and be responsible for two places at once. It would be easy to find someone to take it over.

But does anyone know how this works? The Tenancy Act itself is kind of confusing. However, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal website says, "If their landlord won't allow any assignment, or doesn't reply within seven days to the tenant's request for approval, the tenant can end the lease. They must give a notice in writing to the landlord within 30 days of making their request."

Can this possibly be true? In Ontario you have to give 60 days notice even when you're month-to-month...but this quote suggests that all we have to do to break a lease is ask the landlord for it to be assigned to someone else, and if they say no, we can just leave in 30 days anyway. That sounds too good to be true! Is the landlord really not within his rights to simply hold us to the terms of the original lease? Or, if he has to at least give reasonable grounds for holding us to it, what counts as good grounds? (For example, he's talking about tearing up and rebuilding our deck: could he say, "It'll be too hard to get someone to take over the lease while I'm renovating outside your kitchen, so I refuse.")

Finally, if it's really as easy as the Housing Tribunal makes it out to be, then what happens to the last month's rent that we paid in advance? E.g. if I give him 30 days notice about the assignment on March 31st, then is he obligated not to cash my post-dated cheque for April's rent, and instead just treat April as the final month that I paid him for 1.5 years ago?

Any insight would be appreciated; sorry for the longwindedness.
posted by Beardman to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Oh yeah, and as if that wasn't long enough: do you think it's axiomatic that requesting an assignment of your lease for reasons like mine scuttles any hope for a good reference from the current landlord? We've always gotten along fine, never had any financial or noise issues.
posted by Beardman at 10:28 AM on March 17, 2009

Have you tried just asking your landlord if you can end the lease early? The Toronto housing rental market is fierce; he'll likely have no trouble finding a new tenant. Depends on how nice he is :^)
posted by krunk at 11:26 AM on March 17, 2009

Krunk--yes, I know. I just want to know the facts going into that conversation.
posted by Beardman at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2009

You can contact the tribunal directly to get clarification on the clause. Saying you were pressured to sign a 2 year lease will not fly, as you are free thinking adult. You are entitled to last months rent if you move out before then and are also entitled to collect the interest on last months rent that has built up over the last two years (not unless the landlord has been giving it to you at the end of the year already). Landlord also has the right to refuse any tenants you find, but I am not sure what would happen at that point. I would call the tribunal and get my facts and then have a friendly conversation with the landlord. Most landlords will be flexible, but don't expect to walk away without any responsibility in the matter, otherwise it could get messy.
posted by scarello at 11:37 AM on March 17, 2009

I should probably clarify the last months rent thing...You won't get it back if you leave without proper notice. You will only get last months rent back if you pay for your last 30 days out of pocket. Otherwise, most landlords will just apply it to your last month there. Next time, just take a 1 year lease...after 1 year, you are not obligated to resign and can live month to month.
posted by scarello at 11:44 AM on March 17, 2009

Thanks, Scarello. To clarify, I wasn't meaning to imply that being pressured to sign a 2 year lease was grounds for any kind of complaint. I was just clarifying that although I've been here for longer than most leases last, I'm not yet month-to-month.

About the last months' rent thing: you're suggesting that if I assign the lease, even with the proper 30 days' notice, I still pay that last month's rent out of pocket, and later he'll send me a cheque in the amount of the last month's rent that I paid at the start of the tenancy?
posted by Beardman at 12:18 PM on March 17, 2009

If you are legally allowed to give 30 days notice or work it out with your landlord that its ok, then normally you would just tell him or her to apply last months rent to your last 30 days there, and not pay them another cent out of pocket. The only time you would ask for it back, would be if you happened to have already paid him or her for the month that you both determined would be your last.
posted by scarello at 4:46 PM on March 17, 2009

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